Avoiding Twisted Thinking

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Heber13
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Avoiding Twisted Thinking

Post by Heber13 » 09 Dec 2010, 12:27

I came across this summary by Dr. David Burns.

This can apply to our personal relationships, as well as our relationships with the Church and how we deal with our perceptions of Church during or after a crisis.

Ten Types of Twisted Thinking
By Dr. David Burns
[Heber13 interjections in blue brackets]

1. ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING: You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
[Or the Church failed, so it must all be false]

2. OVERGENERALIZATION: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
[I didn't receive an answer to my prayer, so I never will. Joseph Smith was wrong about this subject, so nothing else he said can be accepted as being right.]

3. MENTAL FILTER; You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
[The Church's comments on homosexuality ruin everything else I believe about the church]

4. DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE: You reject positive experiences by insisting they ‘don’t count’ for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
[I get so frustrated at Church they don't even mention anything about Christ, meanwhile I have missed all the ongoing messages that day about love and service. Sure I felt good feelings, but I focus more on my frustrations.]

5. JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
A. Mind reading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don’t bother to check this out. [My bishop thinks I'm apostate.]
B. The Fortune Teller Error: You anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact. [My family will disown me.]

6. MAGNIFICATION (CATASTROPHIZING) OR MINIMIZATION: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the ‘binocular trick.”
[Polygamy is a huge problem, even if the Church is involved in lots of humanitarian efforts today...I just can't see past polygamy].

7. EMOTIONAL REASONING: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
[I feel confused, I have doubts, I'm not happy. That must mean the Church is false.]
[This could also be a risk if someone gets a good feeling from prayer, and assumes that must reflect reality ... such as investing in business ventures off of a spiritual experience, etc].


8. SHOULD STATEMENTS: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. ‘Musts’ and ‘oughts’ are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
[God should have answered my prayer, the bishop should have been more understanding and known what to say, Joseph Smith should have seen the dangers of his actions if he was really a prophet].

9. LABELING AND MISLABELING: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself. ‘I’m a loser,’ When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, “He’s a dam louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
[Elder Packer is a liar to make such statements. They Brethren are trying to trick us and make us all drones!]

10. PERSONALIZATION: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.
[My lack of faith led to the series of unfortunate events in my home.]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
For me personally, #7 (Should Statements) was what I struggled with the most when I went through a rough time. I felt I should have been stronger. I wondered if I could've prevented my crisis if I was more faithful. I forced myself to dig my heels in deeper to be more devout, that I MUST do FHE, scriptures, temple attendance, tithing...and on and on and on. Actually, those things weren't directly related to my problem...but I had blinders on, and thought things should be better for me if the gospel message is true and I have been obedient to it.

I now look back and see how I limited myself from addressing my problems because I limited my thinking to what "should" be instead of reality and just accepting what was, and then dealing with that reality and moving ahead. It was the most twisted thinking I was caught up in.

Now I have let go of what I think I "should" be as a mormon. I let myself be who I am, and struggle to find ways to make things work with the situation I'm in...not worrying about what could've been, or what I think God should've done. It doesn't remove my trials, but helps me focus a little more on what is important...and I find I don't blame the church for failure to meet my needs (#9: Labeling or Mislabeling).

By removing the twisted thinking, I think I reduce the frustration in my life...even if I still have all my problems to deal with. It feels like I can move forward and make progress while figuring things out.

I wonder if there have been some of these things on the list above that folks from this group have identified with and found ways of avoiding or overcoming while working through faith issues, or perhaps ones you find you are particularly struggling with right now.

It would be good to share experiences on these, as I think that avoiding them can help us move forward in a more healthy way.

Anyone care to share thoughts on anything written above or your own personal experiences/struggles?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

doug
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Re: Avoiding Twisted Thinking

Post by doug » 09 Dec 2010, 12:59

This is the basis of "cognitive therapy", and in my own case, it has been very helpful, though I probably haven't been as diligent in application as I might be. It doesn't work for everyone, as it requires a certain amount of buy-in, like most things. Overall, I think it is consistent with other ways of thinking that seem right to me. Maybe one day it will be a part of my overall theory of everything.

This stuff is covered in detail in Dr. Burns' book Feeling Good, and the follow-on Feeling Good Handbook. They are a dime-a-dozen and well worth reading.

I tend to correct people when they claim they 'should have' done this or that. I respond that they 'should have' done exactly what they did. Part deep truth, part semantics, and part enjoying annoying people.
The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also. -- Mark Twain

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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: Avoiding Twisted Thinking

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 09 Dec 2010, 14:05

Heber13 wrote:...This can apply to our personal relationships, as well as our relationships with the Church and how we deal with our perceptions of Church during or after a crisis.

By removing the twisted thinking, I think I reduce the frustration in my life...Anyone care to share thoughts on anything written above or your own personal experiences/struggles?
I know that it's typically best to focus on what we can control but this list makes me even more frustrated with the Church because I think they propagate and reinforce this exact kind of negative thinking in many cases especially the all-or-nothing thinking, magnification (guilt-trips), emotional reasoning, and should statements. I understand that Church leaders and members are only human, I just wish they wouldn't take some of these ideas to such extremes and then expect others to feel the same way too. Sure this is "mind reading" but my guess is that some Church leaders would probably consider avoiding some of the unhealthy thinking highlighted in this list as a form of apostasy that will lead to the terrible sins of "permissiveness" and self-justification.
"Truth is what works." - William James

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canadiangirl
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Re: Avoiding Twisted Thinking

Post by canadiangirl » 09 Dec 2010, 15:05

No wonder I was so miserable. I can relate to each one of the 10 especially in regards to the church and my mother-in-law!!!!

I began dealing with the shoulds a few years ago. I'm pretty good at not "shoulding" all over myself these days but now and again it can get messy.

As to jumping to conclusions, I deal with that twisted thinking by bouncing my thoughts off my husband. When his mother says or does something that irritates me I will ask DH how he saw things. If we agree, I wasn't jumping, if not its possible I'm making assumptions that aren't correct.

I mind-read ALL THE TIME!! I actually think I'm pretty good at it. :crazy: LOL This is something I am working on. Now I ask. "Did I offend you?" "What do you mean by that statement?" "When you left so quickly was it my fault?"

Thanks for sharing this list. It is really helpful to have them laid out like that.

DA, I agree with you and it is something that concerns me greatly. Your thoughts are one big reason I would distance myself from the church. I feel like I've been psychologically damaged by the way the church words and emphasizes things. It's a tough job undoing all the twisted thinking.


CANADA

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Heber13
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Re: Avoiding Twisted Thinking

Post by Heber13 » 09 Dec 2010, 16:04

doug wrote:I tend to correct people when they claim they 'should have' done this or that. I respond that they 'should have' done exactly what they did. Part deep truth, part semantics, and part enjoying annoying people.
"...annoying people" :lol: - very funny...I might admit that sometimes I get a little pleasure out of that as well...it keeps me sane.

We can learn from the past, but we can't get stuck in it. The "Should haves" are dangerous in that. However, I can admit that it was not the best decision to do exactly what was done, but there is nothing you can do about it except move forward. Get rid of guilt (if that requires repentance or just maturity to learn and move on), and don't live in the past with "should'ves" taking up brain power you could be using to do things better today as a result of learning from the past.

If my daughter drinks at a party...I don't think she should have done that...but what is done is done. Now how do we move forward.

To me, that is where there is productive thinking...not wondering what I should've done as a parent to prevent it, or destroying her self-image with guilt of what she should have done different. Its done. Commit to avoid making the mistake again. Now let's move forward.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: Avoiding Twisted Thinking

Post by Curt Sunshine » 09 Dec 2010, 16:16

Fwiw, it's an interesting and enlightening exercise to go back to the list AFTER you've commented (or thought about commenting) and see where your reaction fits in the list. I would recommend that exercise to everyone. It can be very self-revealing.

I agree with the damaging nature of "shoulds" - especially since we know SO little about what any given personal actually can do. I am fine with standards and ideals and "shoulds" in isolation; in order to progress and grow and repent (meaning just "change"), we have to have some kind of orientation to what we "should" do. It's when those those things are used as sticks instead of targets - and as inter-personal comparisons instead of personal growth marks - and when the nature of "grace" or "atonement" are left out of the picture - that the real problems appear.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Heber13
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Re: Avoiding Twisted Thinking

Post by Heber13 » 09 Dec 2010, 16:25

canadiangirl wrote:I began dealing with the shoulds a few years ago. I'm pretty good at not "shoulding" all over myself these days but now and again it can get messy.
I first went through a process of looking backwards and stopping myself from "what I should have done in the past" and allowed myself to only think forward on what I should do (I should choose the right). Then I moved from what I should do, to what I can do, to try to eliminate thinking of shoulds all together.

Sometimes the shoulds reflect what others expect or what we think others expect of us, which is still negative in the long run, I think. I like to focus on what I can do and what I want to do, and what I will do (even if I don't want to, I will agree to do it if it is a good thing).

canadiangirl, what have you done to help keeping yourself from "shoulding all over yourself"? (by the way, nice phrasing!)
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Heber13
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Re: Avoiding Twisted Thinking

Post by Heber13 » 09 Dec 2010, 16:40

DevilsAdvocate wrote:I think they propagate and reinforce this exact kind of negative thinking in many cases especially the all-or-nothing thinking, magnification (guilt-trips), emotional reasoning, and should statements. I understand that Church leaders and members are only human, I just wish they wouldn't take some of these ideas to such extremes and then expect others to feel the same way too.
DA, what's a good example you've run into where they propagate and reinforce these?

Here is an example that comes to mind from the last General Conference:
Kevin Duncan wrote:Many Church members had faith in Brigham Young’s prophecies, while others remained skeptical and left for what they assumed would be a better life. Yet history has shown that every prophecy Brigham Young declared has come to pass. The valley did blossom and produce. The Saints prospered. The winter of 1848 was a great catalyst for the Lord to teach His people a valuable lesson. They learned—as we all must learn—that the only sure and secure road to protection in this life comes through trusting in and obeying the counsel from the prophets of God.
Elder Kevin R. Duncan, "Our Very Survival"
"every prophecy BY declared has come to pass" and "the only sure and secure road" kind of sounds like an extreme, would you agree?

Yet, Brigham Young would often talk to the Saints about not following blindly and making sure we all use our own intellect, just as Elder Oaks talked about the importance of personal revelation in last conference. Perhaps this is where we get caught in twisted thinking...putting limitations on what we think the Prophet or the GAs are saying...as if their point to be obedient is twisted into blind obedience, which is inconsistent with God's plan.

So is it what they say, or what we hear and put meaning on it where the twisting takes place?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: Avoiding Twisted Thinking

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 09 Dec 2010, 18:21

Heber13 wrote:
DevilsAdvocate wrote:I think they propagate and reinforce this exact kind of negative thinking in many cases especially the all-or-nothing thinking, magnification (guilt-trips), emotional reasoning, and should statements. I understand that Church leaders and members are only human, I just wish they wouldn't take some of these ideas to such extremes and then expect others to feel the same way too.
DA, what's a good example you've run into where they propagate and reinforce these?

So is it what they say, or what we hear and put meaning on it where the twisting takes place?
Personally, I think what they say is already twisted in many cases without really needing any specific personal interpretation. Here are a few examples:

All-or-nothing Thinking:
Gordon B. Hinckley wrote:"Each of us has to face the matter-either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing."
Magnification:
Joseph F. Smith wrote:We hold that sexual sin is second only to the shedding of innocent blood in the category of personal crimes...They are destroying the world.
Ensign wrote:"But remember this, my son: we would rather come to this station and take your body off the train in a casket than to have you come home unclean, having lost your virtue."
Emotional Reasoning:

Basically, the entire testimony concept looks like it is based on this kind of thinking. We are told to just trust our feelings as long as they tell us that the Church is true, otherwise we need to pray about it more until we feel that way.

Should Statements:

There are so many of these points that it's hard to remember them all: tithing, the WoW, home teaching and other callings, missionary work, temple marriage, white shirts, one pair of earrings, no crosses, no tattoos, no porn, no "self abuse", etc. Not only are we told exactly what we should and should not do but we are also told what we are supposed to believe, think, and feel in many cases down to the smallest details. I'm not saying that it's never alright to suggest what people should do I just think this approach is really overused by the Church. If we ask why exactly it is so important for us to believe and do all these things in many cases the main reason we are really left with is simply "because the Church said so."
"Truth is what works." - William James

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Tom Haws
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Re: Avoiding Twisted Thinking

Post by Tom Haws » 09 Dec 2010, 22:15

Heber13, that's a wonderful list. Thanks for sharing.

Tom
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

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